It’s a couple of days after the release of Medal of Honor: Warfighter and critics are hammering the game with all kinds of unpleasantries. IGN rated it a 4 out of 10 (Bad), whilst GameInformer gave it a 5/10 and Kotaku tells the world that this is a game not worth playing.
As a product of EA, the publisher of the famed Battlefield 3, Warfighter obviously had a lot of internal competition as well as external. Modernized shooter like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are already dominating the market with their finely polished shooters and between the real hardcore fps fans theres a dividing line of which MW3 and BF3 stand glaring each other down from either side.
Medal of Honor has been described to be playing catch up their entire franchise, constantly scrambling to get together their affairs to compete with the two latter giants. Perhaps this is true, but there are reasons we can accredit this to.
The first person shooter universe is vast, there are thousands of shooters out there that create a community of their own. Medal of Honor is a franchise that has been there since 1999, with Battlefield entering the race in 2002 and CoD soon after in 2003. So, is Medal of Honor really a hybrid baby between the two? Not particularly, if anything we could talk about it as the grandfather of both these games trying to “keep up” with the changing tides of society.
Previously both Battlefield and CoD took the perspective of past wars such as WWI, WWII and fictional undercover operations during the Cold War. In 2012, Medal of Honor was the first game to take a look at the present day war in Afghanistan. Granted there was a six year hiatus between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3, when it finally did roll around in 2011, it was based on present events. Call of Duty however, began their “Modern Warfare” story in 2008. But was this “Modern Warfare” actually modern, or was it futuristic? The game itself based itself in the near future of 2011. So, Medal of Honor was actually the first game to adopt basing their game on present events at the time. CoD and Battlefield followed suit.
Now we’re looking at another present based shooter, Warfighter, competing against DICE and Treyarch’s already present day shooters. To be brutally honest, Treyarch’s game is completely based on fiction, to say that their story is more authentic or realistic than Danger Close’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter is to compare a carttoon and an Actor and say that the cartoon exhibits more emotion. Story-wise, the two cannot be compared. The concept of Warfighter was to make the shooter as authentic as possible so to show respect to those who fight for our freedom. Of course, as a game it had to cater to the gamer market, as well as glorify our present and past heroes. Thus, if it seems that the Treyarch storyline is much more spiced up, it’s because it is completely invented and has no relation whatsoever to reality. Danger Close, made the effort to create real life places, with the real time combat action of special operation soldiers from countries worldwide.
The Battlefield 3 story was below par, the campaign was short and dull. It exhibited everything that was wrong with the fps universe, the story line follows a path that’s already been similarly outlined in an earlier Black Ops (CoD) game. So the progression of it was far from new. If anything, the campaign was to get used to the handling of guns and how graphics looked when everything moves into pre-determined locations. At least with Warfighter, the story did make sense. Although it did not follow a linear path, the story wasn’t about creating a movie (although it felt like watching a movie), it was about linking the troubles combatants face when torn between their career and personal life. The events that take place in the beginning may not seem to be linked, but they make up a shattered story which you the player are expected to piece together in order to understand the difficulties they face as soldiers. The story may be fictional but the places are real and the emotion is real. One can only assume after having so many soldiers collaborating on the project that there is some degree of reality within the game.
Some have described the campaign to be one of the best they’ve ever played from a shooter. This is largely true as the Battlefield 3 campaign was no competition. It poses a different gameplay style from the fast paced rambo-ing you can easily experience in CoD. Literally, you can play through a CoD campaign and still have no idea what you were doing save for a few snippets at the end. It literally feels like the same story each time, every play through has brought the same thought: “those damned Russians”. In Warfighter, the story grips you, and perhaps all the drama forces you to pay attention to whats going on, but also the missions that don’t include any shooting force you to take a step back and realize what you’re doing. You’re playing a shooter, on a mission where there is no shooting. The inclusion of missions like that has been seen by some as disruptive and ruins the name of an “FPS”, but in reality they’re great and provide a much needed change up of just constantly shooting.
Basically, play the game for the story, witness the story, don’t play it for choice of who’s neck to snap.
Perhaps the reason why Warfighter received such a negative score is due to their multiplayer shenanigans. Right off the bat the game received a 208MB patch update, one can only assume that it was for the online portion of the game. Still residing after this patch are strange glitches like falling under the map, spawning outside the game and guns not spawning. Surely, these reasons alone cannot be why it got such a low score? When Battlefield 3 came out, bugs were abundant and frustrated players raged on forums web-wide, but it still received a solid 9.0 from most critics.
Most critics are describing it as an unfinished game. While yes, some rendering on the maps are off and there are glitches and strange bugs everywhere, the game does feel like it could have used a little more time in the production line. Critics are bashing the unoriginality of the maps and the guns. Whilst yes, the maps may seem a little generic and very CoD-like, as a realistic take on warfare, how far can you stray from the standard selection of guns? As a military shooter, you can’t reinvent the ranks that already exist in the army. Whilst the multiplayer maps and game modes lack innovation, that’s about all that is wrong with the multiplayer. The ranking system, guns and reward system is within a standard that runs monotonously strong within Battlefield 3, Call of Duty and Warfighter alike.
The play style of Warfighter seems to be what a lot of players in-game are complaining about. The game does have health regeneration, but rarely will you ever stand around long enough without being shot again to regenerate that health. The multiplayer features the return of camping and quick scoping. In this aspect, the gameplay is a lot like that of Call of Duty, with the close quarter combat and quick deaths. And as expected with the Frostbite 2 engine, it looks like Battlefield 3, even the scaling of obstruction is the same with the two legs upfront. Creatively, they had to follow some sort of guideline by being published by EA (publisher of Battlefield 3) and using the same engine. So basically, it’s got a higher death toll but plays the same as Call of Duty and looks like Battlefield 3 (if not a little worse).
Interface wise, you can arguably say that they overdid the customization. There’s a lot of clutter whilst the Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty class selection options are limited to keeping it simple. It’s very easy to navigate through the interface of the latter two, whilst in Warfighter it takes a moment or two to figure out what is going on. This is another aspect which might just factor into the feeling of it being “unfinished”.
Campaign wise, despite the lack of player agency, it was excellent and posed much more of a thrilling experience than the dull Battlefield 3 campaign or the done and dusted variations of the Call of Duty games. It created a cinematic experience akin to very few games in the industry. Granted that that aspect isn’t attractive to every player, but it is a great experience and does give you a genuine feel for the lives of Tier 1 operatives.
Multiplayer wise, it was disappointing, after having played a solid few hours of various game modes it’s obvious the originality is lacking. That’s why in the multiplayer aspect, it may not be the illegitimate child of CoD and Battlefield, but it is definitely the grandfather who’s trying his hardest to stay “in” with the cool kids of the new generation. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy playing it, adopt fast enough reflexes and high enough adrenaline and the new ranking system is a blast to race through, purely because everyone is working through it just like you. Past that there is the somewhat trivial Warfighter Nations to participate in, and then there is an empty void.
It’s not a baby, it’s an outdated grandpa. Enjoyable in the short term, but long term wise it will see players departing back to their original Battlefield or CoD fan bases.